Published on Thu Jul 22 2021

GestaltMatcher: Overcoming the limits of rare disease matching using facial phenotypic descriptors

Hsieh, T.-C., Bar-Haim, A., Moosa, S., Ehmke, N., Gripp, K. W., Pantel, J. T., Danyel, M., Mensah, M. A., Horn, D., Rosnev, S., Fleischer, N., Bonini, G., Hustinx, A., Schmid, A., Knaus, A., Javanmardi, B., Klinkhammer, H., Lesmann, H., Sivalingam, S., Kamphans, T., Meiswinkel, W., Ebstein, F., Krüger, E., Küry, S., Bezieau, S., Schmidt, A., Peters, S., Engels, H., Mangold, E., Kreiss, M., Cremer, K., Perne, C., Betz, R. C., Bender, T., Grundmann-Hauser, K., Haack, T. B., Wagner, M., Brunet, T., Bentzen, H. B., Averdunk, L., Coetzer, K. C., Lyon, G. J., Spielmann, M., Schaaf, C., Mundlos, S.

A large fraction of monogenic disorders causes craniofacial abnormalities with characteristic facial morphology. These disorders can be diagnosed more efficiently with the support of computer-aided next-generation phenotyping tools, such as DeepGestalt.

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Abstract

A large fraction of monogenic disorders causes craniofacial abnormalities with characteristic facial morphology. These disorders can be diagnosed more efficiently with the support of computer-aided next-generation phenotyping tools, such as DeepGestalt. These tools have learned to associate facial phenotypes with the underlying syndrome through training on thousands of patient photographs. However, this "supervised" approach means that diagnoses are only possible if the disorder was part of the training set. To improve recognition of ultra-rare disorders, we created GestaltMatcher, which uses a deep convolutional neural network based on the DeepGestalt framework. We used photographs of 17,560 patients with 1,115 rare disorders to define a "Clinical Face Phenotype Space". Distance between cases in the phenotype space defines syndromic similarity, allowing test patients to be matched to a molecular diagnosis even when the disorder was not included in the training set. Similarities among patients with previously unknown disease genes can also be detected. Therefore, in concert with mutation data, GestaltMatcher could accelerate the clinical diagnosis of patients with ultra-rare disorders and facial dysmorphism, as well as enable the delineation of novel phenotypes.